Evogene Ltd. (TASE:EVGN) has signed a cooperation agreement with India's Rasi Seeds Ltd. to develop drought resistance rice with better crop yields. Rasi Seeds is one of India's top seed enhancement companies, making the agreement very important for Evogene.
Evogene and Rasi Seeds are currently conducting a pilot. Evogene has granted Rasi Seeds an exclusive license to use genes discovered by Evogene for R&D and commercialization of improved rice varieties in India. The companies will discuss expanding the license to other countries. Rasi Seeds will test the effect of the genes on its rice R&D program and field tests. If these rice varieties are developed, Rasi Seeds will commercialize them through its marketing channels.
Rasi Seeds will bear the R&D and possible commercialization costs of the rice varieties with Evogene genes. Evogene will keep the intellectual property on the genes, as well as the right to award a use license of the genes for other crops in India, and the right to award use licenses of the genes for rice in other countries.
Evogene said that Rasi Seeds will pay the company a one-time payment for the license, the amount of which it did not disclose.
Until now, Evogene has focused on enhanced varieties of corn and soy beans, which are a main food crops in the West, as well as for animal feed. The company said that rice accounts for a fifth of global calorie consumption by humans, and is 80% of the main food item for half of the world's population. In addition, 24 million tons of risk husks a year are used as animal feed.
Rice is highly dependent on rain, and droughts can cause widespread hunger; hence the importance of drought-resistant varieties. India is the world's leading rice producer.
Rasi Seeds has 600 employees, and it currently utilizes a network of 15,000 farmers. In 2010, it was declared one of the world's top ten biotechnology companies.
Evogene's share price rose 1.6% by mid-afternoon to NIS 16.18, giving a market cap of NIS 590 million.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on June 17, 2012
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